[JURIST] A French appeals court ruled Wednesday that former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] can be extradited to Panama. Noriega faces charges of human rights violations in Panama for crimes allegedly committed during his 1981-1989 rule. He was already convicted on three counts of human rights violations in absentia, and each count carries a 20-year prison sentence. Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli [official profile, in Spanish] and Panamanian authorities have been seeking Noriega’s extradition [JURIST report] to face charges of human rights violations in Panama since April 2010. French authorities ordered his extradition [JURIST report] earlier this year, but it has been held up in court. It is unclear when [CNN report] French Prime Minister Francois Fillon [official website, in French] will sign the extradition order.
A French criminal court sentenced Noriega [JURIST report] to seven years in jail for money laundering in July 2010. He was convicted of laundering $3 million in drug profits by purchasing property in Paris. In April 2010, Noriega was extradited [JURIST report] from the US, where he had served a 17-year sentence on drug charges, after fighting extradition [JURIST report] since 2007. The US Supreme Court declined to reconsider [JURIST report] Noriega’s petition to stop the extradition process. His lawyers filed the petition in February 2010 after the Supreme Court denied certiorari [JURIST reports] on the case a month earlier. Noriega, who has been declared a prisoner of war, sought to enforce a provision of the Geneva Convention [ICRC backgrounder] that requires repatriation at the end of confinement. Noriega and his wife were sentenced in absentia [Reuters report] to 10 years in jail by a French court in 1999, but France agreed to hold a new trial if he was extradited.